Omnium Gatherum; First edition (3 Oct. 2016)
So, disclaimer: I know John Boden well, and Mercedes M Yardley a little, and am happy to call them both friends. That said, my standard review policy applies - I only review books I a) finish and b)enjoy.
Detritus in Love is a work of dark poetry. The two authors have a blended prose style that is both deeply lyrical and barbed, jagged. The story feels like a Frankenstein's monster of stitched together Neil Gaiman, Tim Burton, and Clive Barker, scarred and brought to it’s own horrible, beautiful life. I mean that as high, praise, to be clear - this is far from simple pastiche or fan fiction, instead building on those influences to create a tale with it’s own voice, rhythm, and beating black heart.
The story has many of the qualities of dark mythology, even children’s tale (though I wouldn’t actually read this to any children under the age of 25). The story is simple, without being simplistic, and the pleasure in reading it came as much from the journey as the destination - perhaps more. The characters are brilliantly realised, vivid portraits that I found to be genuinely affecting, even haunting.
There’s a lot churning away under the hood here - about poverty, cruelty to children, mortality, morality - but it’s a long way from ‘message fiction’ - the story, the style, is the thing, the compelling force behind the book.
I’m sure this book won’t be for everyone - I’m sure there will be some who find the florid prose a little too much, and that’s fine, that’s ultimately a taste thing - for the record, this is not my normal cup of tea either. But I did find it, in this instance, to be a delight - barely a sentence passed, and never a paragraph, without some vivid turn of phrase that really spoke to me.
Detritus in Love is an unusual story, maybe even a unique one. It’s also, I think, quite brilliant. I’d say it’s a must read for anyone who enjoys lyrical dark fiction - and even if you think you don’t, you might want to give this book a chance to surprise you.